|Console/platform of origin||Nintendo Entertainment System|
|First installment||Stack-Up (1985)|
|Latest installment||Gyromite (1985)|
The R.O.B. universe (ロボット, Robot) refers to the usage of the historically significant Robotic Operating Buddy (R.O.B.) peripheral for the NES as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series.
It was first represented in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with the peripheral appearing as both a playable character and as a set of enemies in The Subspace Emissary. R.O.B. returns as an unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Roughly around the same time as Nintendo's domestic launch of its new video game console, the Famicom, in July 1983, one of the most infamous and historically significant time periods in the video game industry's early timeline was at its height: the two year-long North American video game recession that began in 1983 and heralded the catastrophic end of the second generation of video gaming. Several causes for the phenomenon are routinely identified by historical retrospectives: roughly a dozen separate consoles were available for retail by 1982, each with its own library of games and its own funding by almost as many different companies, and several of these companies were hastily started and financed in order to join what seemed to be a booming North American video game market - but were not always in possession of their own necessarily accomplished video game programmers.
Furthermore, the hardware manufacturers of this era - in stark contrast to Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and Microsoft in later decades - did not enforce exclusive control of their platforms' supply of games, effectively meaning that any group could make a game and sell it, and there was nothing to prevent limited shelf space in stores from being overloaded by third-party publishers' material. This effectively resulted in the industry becoming flooded with games of notably low quality that were nonetheless marketed heavily and produced in high numbers.
1982 would see the release of two Atari games which would later earn the hyperbolic title of "the games that killed gaming". Pac-Man was an Atari 2600 port of the landmark and popular arcade game of the same name, while E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was a video-game adaptation of the Steven Spielberg movie of the same name. Both games were high-profile titles that were adaptations of properties that were themselves extremely high-profile. In both cases, Atari rushed their programming and development processes to make early releases and manufactured colossal amounts of units in anticipation of huge hits. Both games were universally panned by critics and consumers alike, with Pac-Man being criticized for its flickering graphics and unfaithfulness to the source material, and E.T. being criticized for its cryptic nature relative to its young target audience and tedious pit-escaping mechanic. While the games sold very well, Atari grossly overestimated the number of sales they would generate, resulting in many unsold units, leading to a mass burial of unsold Atari titles, both failures and successes, in a New Mexico landfill.
This began a brutal chain reaction across the entire North American gaming market, which was not at all helped by a newly soured consumer outlook on the video game concept. Most stores, lacking space to carry new games and consoles, had no choice but to attempt to return surplus games to recent publishers, but since publishers had neither new products to supply nor cash to issue refunds to the retailers, many companies folded, and of those that did not, several abandoned the video game business entirely. Stores left with units that could no longer be returned to defunct publishers could only resort to offering the titles for spectacularly low bargain-bin prices. Toy retailers that controlled consumer access to games had concluded that video games were a fad that had in fact ended, and therefore became opposed to devoting shelf space to video games and consoles in favor of other types of entertainment products.
The massive recession of North America's video game market into near-complete irrelevance, as well as thriving European areas such as Britain's focus on gaming software for personal computers, had, of course, by definition handed dominance in the devoted home console market to Japan, and Nintendo's Famicom console was free to build up influence in the country and become the dominant console. During development of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo sought an eventual late 1985 Western release for the Famicom and its building library as the "NES", but Western retailers' long-established bias against video games and consoles was a formidable barrier to these plans. Nintendo's Research and Development Team therefore hoped to construct hardware compatible with the console that could help present the NES console to these retailers as a "toy" and "entertainment system" with compatible "Game Paks" and different toy-like peripherals, instead of being presented as merely the latest console-with-cartridges product. The NES Zapper light gun and several games associated with it were already on hand to help provide this image, but Nintendo proceeded to develop a mechanically complex, battery-powered peripheral resembling a nearly foot-tall robot that was literally named "Robot". They developed two NES cartridges compatible with the device: Robot Block, released in Japan along with the Robot unit itself near the end of July 1985, and Robot Gyro, released mid-August. Robot was renamed "R.O.B." for its Western release, and its associated games Stack-Up and Gyromite, respectively - though the titles were not localised besides the promotional materials due to already being in English, and would show their Japanese names on-screen when booted up on the NES.
The Western launch date of the NES, October 18th, 1985, was a month after Super Mario Bros. revolutionized the video game market in Japan. Nintendo's ploy to use R.O.B. to convince American toy retailers to allow the NES video game console in their stores was evidently successful, for Super Mario Bros., the NES, and the rest of its extensive launch library were uninhibited in their distribution and sales in the West. The irony is that, in any other circumstance, R.O.B. and its two games would likely have been remembered as a dismal failure in Nintendo's timeline of experimental peripherals for its game consoles; not only were Gyromite and Stack-up the only two packages ever released for the unit, but videos showing the unit in action demonstrate that R.O.B.'s operative efficiency and practicality with even these two games were questionable at best.
Gyromite was effectively a side-scrolling game where the controls were split between player-character movement on player 1's Control Pad and environmental effects on player 2's A and B buttons, making it a cooperative game, and R.O.B.'s contribution to Gyromite was effectively as an optional substitute for a second player, where pressing Start on player 1's controller would compel R.O.B. to press an appropriate button on the player 2 controller after going through roughly half a minute's worth of pre-programmed motions. Stack-Up, on the other hand, fared better as software that used the R.O.B. unit itself as a physical game device, where electronically inputting commands with the NES controller would compel R.O.B. to move and drop colored blocks onto stands surrounding its base, though the pre-programmed motions of the R.O.B. unit often knocked blocks off their stands unintentionally.
Nonetheless, analysts argue that the R.O.B. unit had a uniquely profound and important effect in the North American history of video games as a market, even if it was entirely due to its "Trojan horse" concept rather than its actual performance as a product. To what degree R.O.B. truly allowed the newly Nintendo-dominated video game business to proliferate in the West is a point of debate. Nevertheless, Nintendo has shown itself to hold the R.O.B. unit in high regard, as evident by having it make a number of cameos and even a few playable appearances in a rather large number of its modern-day franchises. Its cameos consist of Kirby being able to collect its parts and reassemble them in a puzzle in Kirby's Dream Land 3, several R.O.B.-centered microgames appearing throughout the WarioWare series, a model of R.O.B. decorating a portion of Port Town Aero Dive in F-Zero GX (which also occurs in the stage of the same name in Super Smash Bros. Brawl), R.O.B. appearing in the Curiosity Shop in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, R.O.B.'s head being a collectable treasure in Pikmin 2, and R.O.B. appearing as on the back portion of the box art of Capcom's Viewtiful Joe. Its playable appearances consist of Mario Kart DS, which marked its debut as a full-fledged video game character and even features a kart that resembles its Stack-Up accessories, and lastly and most notably, the Super Smash Bros. series as of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
In addition to cameos and playable appearances, R.O.B. has been referenced in some instances, with the most notable of these occurring within the Star Fox series. ROB 64 references R.O.B. both in name and in function as a robotic assistant, due to his status as the pilot of the Great Fox. However, Star Fox Zero and Star Fox Guard both feature robots that are almost identical to R.O.B. Zero features Direct-i, who is tethered to the Gyrowing and functions similarly to ROB 64 and R.O.B. by being an assistant to the player. Guard features the A.T.K. Unit, which is one of the "combat class" robots in the game that threaten the player's mining facilities. Outside of these instances, StarTropics features a robot resembling R.O.B. named "NAV-COM", who is an important side character.
Both Robot Series games featured an on-screen playable character named Professor Hector. In Stack-Up, Hector simply existed to be controlled by the player, hopping across a keyboard-like graphic onscreen in order to dictate the physical R.O.B. unit's carry-and-drop movements of the colored blocks around it. Sometimes, enemies known as "glitches" named Spike and Flipper got in his way.
In Gyromite, Professor Hector has been trapped in rooms filled with dynamite and hostile enemies named Smicks, and he is otherwise defenseless in his quest to grab all the dynamite in each stage, except for the presence of colored pedestals scattered throughout each stage that may be raised or lowered by the button presses of the second player's controller. These pedestals may trap Smicks to get them out of the professor's way, possibly even squishing them—or Hector himself if he is not careful. The R.O.B. unit can be used as the second player; when doing so, it drops spinning tops called "gyros" onto the second NES controller's red buttons to keep the gates held down for the player operating the first NES controller, representing Hector's creation helping him out of his predicament.
Hector has not seen the same posthumous celebration from Nintendo as R.O.B. has, with his only appearances since being in Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Tetris DS.
Since the R.O.B. universe only has two games to draw material from, it has minimal representation: it features one character, one item (produced by R.O.B's down special move, Gyro), one music track, and no stages. However, R.O.B. plays an integral role in Adventure Mode, with several different R.O.B.s appearing as enemies.
- R.O.B. (Unlockable): R.O.B. is the only playable character in the R.O.B. universe. His moveset is largely original, although some of his moves are based on the real peripheral; for example, the flashing red light on R.O.B.'s head when his Robo Beam is charged is based on when the red light flashed to indicate that R.O.B. was ready for use with the NES. Once all characters are unlocked, on the character select screen R.O.B. is in the fourth column alongside the Ice Climbers, Pit and Samus, who all originated on the Famicom/NES and are also the only playable characters of their respective universes in Brawl (minus Zero Suit Samus, who does not appear on the character select screen).
- Gyromite: A remix of the title theme of Stack-Up, the game R.O.B. was packaged with. While Brawl mislabeled this track as being the background music from Gyromite, there are some short tracks from Gyromite that are inserted into this remix. It is used on the Mario Bros. stage and is played during R.O.B.'s Character Roll Call.
- Victory! R.O.B.: Upbeat music derived from Stack-Up's background music.
Trophies which feature R.O.B.s are:
R.O.B. (Series: "Others". Unlock: Clear Classic Mode as R.O.B.)
R.O.B. sporting his Famicom colors. R.O.B. debuted in Japan as Robot in 1985 as an add-on for the Famicom. He could be combined with a "gyro set," etc. for two types of play. The player controlled Professor Hector, the TV emitted light, and R.O.B. responded to the light by moving. At the time, it was epoch-making game play. Recently, R.O.B. appeared in Mario Kart DS.
- : Nintendo Entertainment System Robotic Operating Buddy
Diffusion Beam (Series: "Others". Unlock: Clear All-Star Mode as R.O.B.)
R.O.B.'s Final Smash. He emits a beam from his eyes that spreads across the spectrum and undulates in great variety as it travels. What makes this technique different is R.O.B.'s ability to move while using it. This allows him to use it in combination with his other moves to increase his Final Smash's effectiveness.
R.O.B. Sentry (Use Trophy Stand)
A robot with a two-armed shot. This R.O.B. uses the booster on its base to propel its jumps. Often used in the Subspace Army bomb factory in defense or labor roles, the R.O.B. Sentry also works as a detonator. Its emotional capacity is unknown, but it has utter trust in the Ancient Minister and obeys him unwaveringly. This production model has been made in great numbers.
R.O.B. Launcher (Series: The Subspace Emissary. Unlock: Use Trophy Stand)
An upgraded R.O.B. model with a missile-launcher head that bolsters firepower. The standard coloring has also been refinished with a green and brown military motif, stylishly accented with a blue cord connecting the arm sections and base. This R.O.B. does not use its arms—attacks are limited to the missiles fired from its head.
R.O.B. Blaster (Series: The Subspace Emissary. Unlock:Use Trophy Stand)
A R.O.B. model boasting robo-beam- blasting eye lenses suited for long-range combat. There are two types—one acts like a stationary gun, sitting in place and lining up targets, and the other is mobile. Actually, the R.O.B. Sentry also features beam-firing capabilities, but because the roles of the R.O.B. Squad are so well defined, there's no conflict between the ranks.
Ancient Minister (Series: The Subspace Emissary. Unlock: Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary)
The commander of the Subspace Army who uses Subspace Bombs to tear up this world. He was once the lord of this world, living on the floating Island of the Ancients with many robots-but the robots were taken hostage on Tabuu's orders. Now that their home's a bomb factory, the robots carry out their functions while enduring deep sadness caused by the loss of their colleagues.
Subspace Bomb (Series: The Subspace Emissary. Unlock: Clear Boss Battles on Easy difficulty)
A weapon that, when it explodes, draws every part of this world within its blast range into Subspace. The areas drawn into Subspace this way float about in bubbles as individual colonies. To detonate a bomb, two R.O.B.'s must be destroyed in the process. The Ancient Minister is bitterly aggrieved by this fact.
|R.O.B.||Mario Kart DS||[Specials: Indirect] Attack +15||R.O.B.|
|Robot & Blocks||Stack-Up||[Specials: Indirect] Attack +27||R.O.B.|
|Robot||Mario Kart DS||[Energy] Attack +32||R.O.B.|
The R.O.B. universe returns in Super Smash Bros. 4, though unlike in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, its representation is very minimal: while R.O.B. retains his status as the universe's sole fighter, its one song from Brawl is exclusive to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. As a result, the R.O.B. universe is effectively akin to a "bonus" universe in SSB4, much like how the EarthBound and F-Zero universes were in Super Smash Bros., and how the Fire Emblem universe was in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
- R.O.B. (Unlockable): R.O.B. returns as a playable character, but has undergone some aesthetic and mechanical changes in the transition. The most notable examples are his design being much more inline with his real-life appearance (with his NES appearance now being his default appearance in Western releases), his KO potential being vastly improved, his zoning game being somewhat worsened, and Diffusion Beam being replaced by Super Diffusion Beam. Outside of these examples, his moveset has remained largely intact.
- Victory! R.O.B.: Upbeat music derived from Stack-Up's background music. Unchanged from Brawl.
Collectible trophies that appear in both the 3DS version and the Wii U version.
The R.O.B. universe returns in Ultimate. Once again, no new significant content is introduced.
- 42. R.O.B. (Unlockable): Returns as an unlockable fighter with a new Final Smash, Guided Robo Beam, and a variety of buffs that have made R.O.B. a more potent and viable character.
- Stack-Up/Gyromite: A medley of themes from Stack-Up and Gyromite, including the Test theme and level theme from Gyromite, and the title, Memory Mode, Direct Mode, and Bingo Mode themes from Stack-Up. Returns from Brawl. Heard in R.O.B.'s character trailer.
- Victory! R.O.B.: Upbeat music derived from Stack-Up's background music. Unchanged from Brawl and Smash 4.
Games and accessories with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series
The R.O.B. universe has games and accessories represented throughout the Super Smash Bros. series with a total of 3 games and accessories. The latest game represented in this universe is Gyromite, released on August 13, 1985.
- Playable character:
- The design for R.O.B in Smash is a mildly altered version of the original accessory.
- The light at the top of R.O.B's head that flashes red when Robo Beam is charged is based on an identical light that flashes when R.O.B. is connected to an NES and ready for use.
- "Stack-Up/Gyromite": A medley of tracks from this game and Gyromite. Mislabled as Gyromite in Brawl.
- Playable character:
- Gyro is based on a top-like accessory used by R.O.B. for the game.
- "Stack-Up/Gyromite": A medley of tracks from this game and Stack-Up. Mislabled as Gyromite in Brawl.
- The R.O.B. universe is the only universe that has a playable character but has never had a stage.
- In Brawl, R.O.B.'s Famicom color scheme is his default costume, while his gray-and-white NES color scheme is available as an alternate costume. In SSB4 and Ultimate, his NES color scheme is used as the default costume in American and PAL region releases (SSB4) or European languages (Ultimate).
- The R.O.B. universe has the least amount of music of all universes represented by a playable character, with only one full track in the entire series.
- The R.O.B. universe is the only primary universe introduced in Brawl to not have Assist Trophy representation.
|Fighter||R.O.B. (SSBB · SSB4 · SSBU)|
|Enemies||R.O.B. Squad (R.O.B. Blaster · R.O.B. Launcher · R.O.B. Sentry)|
|Other||Ancient Minister · Isle of the Ancients|
|Trophies, Stickers, and Spirits||Trophies (SSBB · SSB4) · Spirits|